Managing Bladder Incontinence

Patient & Family Teaching Sheet

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What is bladder incontinence?

  • Loss of bladder control causing loss of urine
  • The problem has varying degrees of severity. Some people have only small leaks or dribbles of urine, while others lose large amounts of urine at a tim
  • Bladder muscles and nerves, as well as the brain, all work together to control bladder function
    • A problem in any of these areas can result in incontinence
    • Infection, constipation, and mobility problems can also cause incontinence
  • Urine left on the skin can lead to irritation and odors

What can I do to control urinary leakage?

  • Establish a regular pattern of urinating
    • Plan to go to the toilet every two hours while awake and before bedtime
  • Make it easier to get to the bathroom
    • Use a bedside commode, urinal, or bedpan
  • Protect your privacy and dignity
  • Avoid fluids or foods that contain caffeine (soft drinks, coffee, tea, or chocolate)
  • Avoid alcohol as it can over-stimulate the bladder
  • Ask your nurse about
    • Exercises that can help develop more control
    • Medications that may help improve bladder function

What can be done to prevent odor or skin irritation?

  • Keep skin clean and dry
    • Take extra care to wash and dry the area
    • Products are available that can help you feel clean and eliminate odor
    • Use barrier creams to protect skin from urine
  • Use protective products to try to keep clothing dry
    • Your nurse can help you select which type of garment and products would be most helpful for you
    • Change the garment frequently
  • Wash your hands before and after care to prevent infection
  • Ask your nurse for things that can further control any odors

What to discuss with the nurse?

  • Changes in your bladder function
    • Burning, pain, or discomfort with urination
    • Changes in the amount, frequency, color, or odor of urine
  • Medications
    • Many medications can cause incontinence
  • Skin irritation